Rationale: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a complex disease for which the pathogenesis is poorly understood. In this study, we identified lactic acid as a metabolite that is elevated in the lung tissue of patients with IPF.
Objectives: This study examines the effect of lactic acid on myofibroblast differentiation and pulmonary fibrosis.
Methods: We used metabolomic analysis to examine cellular metabolism in lung tissue from patients with IPF and determined the effects of lactic acid and lactate dehydrogenase-5 (LDH5) overexpression on myofibroblast differentiation and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β activation in vitro.
Measurements and Main Results: Lactic acid concentrations from healthy and IPF lung tissue were determined by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy; α-smooth muscle actin, calponin, and LDH5 expression were assessed by Western blot of cell culture lysates. Lactic acid and LDH5 were significantly elevated in IPF lung tissue compared with controls. Physiologic concentrations of lactic acid induced myofibroblast differentiation via activation of TGF-β. TGF-β induced expression of LDH5 via hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF1α). Importantly, overexpression of both HIF1α and LDH5 in human lung fibroblasts induced myofibroblast differentiation and synergized with low-dose TGF-β to induce differentiation. Furthermore, inhibition of both HIF1α and LDH5 inhibited TGF-β–induced myofibroblast differentiation.
Conclusions: We have identified the metabolite lactic acid as an important mediator of myofibroblast differentiation via a pH-dependent activation of TGF-β. We propose that the metabolic milieu of the lung, and potentially other tissues, is an important driving force behind myofibroblast differentiation and potentially the initiation and progression of fibrotic disorders.
lactate; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; myofibroblast; lactate dehydrogenase; hypoxia-inducible factor 1α
Rationale: Twenty-eight percent of people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea experience daytime sleepiness, which interferes with daily functioning. It remains unclear whether treatment with continuous positive airway pressure improves daytime function in these patients.
Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of continuous positive airway pressure treatment to improve functional status in sleepy patients with mild and moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
Methods: Patients with self-reported daytime sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Scale score >10) and an apnea-hypopnea index with 3% desaturation and from 5 to 30 events per hour were randomized to 8 weeks of active or sham continuous positive airway pressure treatment. After the 8-week intervention, participants in the sham arm received 8 weeks of active continuous positive airway pressure treatment.
Measurements and Main Results: The Total score on the Functional Outcomes of Sleep Questionnaire was the primary outcome measure. The adjusted mean change in the Total score after the first 8-week intervention was 0.89 for the active group (n = 113) and −0.06 for the placebo group (n = 110) (P = 0.006). The group difference in mean change corresponded to an effect size of 0.41 (95% confidence interval, 0.14–0.67). The mean (SD) improvement in Functional Outcomes of Sleep Questionnaire Total score from the beginning to the end of the crossover phase (n = 91) was 1.73 ± 2.50 (t = 6.59; P < 0.00001) with an effect size of 0.69.
Conclusions: Continuous positive airway pressure treatment improves the functional outcome of sleepy patients with mild and moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT 00127348).
continuous positive airway pressure; obstructive sleep apnea; daytime sleepiness; randomized clinical trial; functional status
The incidence and costs of critical illness are increasing in the United States at a time when there is a focus both on limiting the rising costs of healthcare and improving the quality of end-of-life care. More than 25% of healthcare costs are spent in the last year of life, and approximately 20% of deaths occur in the intensive care unit (ICU). Consequently, there has been speculation that end-of-life care in the ICU represents an important target for cost savings. It is unclear whether efforts to improve end-of-life care in the ICU could significantly reduce healthcare costs. Here, we summarize recent studies suggesting that important opportunities may exist to improve quality and reduce costs through two mechanisms: advance care planning for patients with life-limiting illness and use of time-limited trials of ICU care for critically ill patients. The goal of these approaches is to ensure patients receive the intensity of care that they would choose at the end of life, given the opportunity to make an informed decision. Although these mechanisms hold promise for increasing quality and reducing costs, there are few clearly described, effective methods to implement these mechanisms in routine clinical practice. We believe basic science in communication and decision making, implementation research, and demonstration projects are critically important if we are to translate these approaches into practice and, in so doing, provide high-quality and patient-centered care while limiting rising healthcare costs.
Rationale: Obesity is a major risk factor for asthma; the reasons for this are poorly understood, although it is thought that inflammatory changes in adipose tissue in obesity could contribute to airway inflammation and airway reactivity in individuals who are obese.
Objectives: To determine if inflammation in adipose tissue in obesity is related to late-onset asthma, and associated with increased markers of airway inflammation and reactivity.
Methods: We recruited a cohort of obese women with asthma and obese control women. We followed subjects with asthma for 12 months after bariatric surgery. We compared markers in adipose tissue and the airway from subjects with asthma and control subjects, and changes in subjects with asthma over time.
Measurements and Main Results: Subjects with asthma had increased macrophage infiltration of visceral adipose tissue (P < 0.01), with increased expression of leptin (P < 0.01) and decreased adiponectin (p < 0.001) when controlled for body mass index. Similar trends were observed in subcutaneous adipose tissue. Airway epithelial cells expressed receptors for leptin and adiponectin, and airway reactivity was significantly related to visceral fat leptin expression (rho = −0.8; P < 0.01). Bronchoalveolar lavage cytokines and cytokine production from alveolar macrophages were similar in subjects with asthma and control subjects at baseline, and tended to increase 12 months after surgery.
Conclusions: Obesity is associated with increased markers of inflammation in serum and adipose tissue, and yet decreased airway inflammation in obese people with asthma; these patterns reverse with bariatric surgery. Leptin and other adipokines may be important mediators of airway disease in obesity through direct effects on the airway rather than by enhancing airway inflammation.
asthma; obesity; adipokine; airway hyperreactivity
Rationale: Vitamin D has immunomodulatory and antiinflammatory effects that may be modified by cigarette smoke and may affect lung function.
Objectives: To examine the effect of vitamin D deficiency and smoking on lung function and lung function decline.
Methods: A total of 626 men from the Normative Aging Study had 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels measured at three different times between 1984 and 2003 with concurrent spirometry. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as serum level ≤ 20 ng/ml. Statistical analysis was performed using multivariable linear regression and mixed effects models.
Measurements and Main Results: In the overall cohort, there was no significant effect of vitamin D deficiency on lung function or on lung function decline. In both cross-sectional and longitudinal multivariable models, there was effect modification by vitamin D status on the association between smoking and lung function. Cross-sectional analysis revealed lower lung function in current smokers with vitamin D deficiency (FEV1, FVC, and FEV1/FVC; P ≤ 0.0002), and longitudinal analysis showed more rapid rates of decline in FEV1 (P = 0.023) per pack-year of smoking in subjects with vitamin D deficiency as compared with subjects who were vitamin D sufficient.
Conclusions: Vitamin D deficiency was associated with lower lung function and more rapid lung function decline in smokers over 20 years in this longitudinal cohort of elderly men. This suggests that vitamin D sufficiency may have a protective effect against the damaging effects of smoking on lung function. Future studies should seek to confirm this finding in the context of smoking and other exposures that affect lung function.
vitamin D; vitamin D deficiency; lung function decline; smoking; effect modification
Rationale: There is debate about whether physicians should routinely provide patient surrogates with recommendations about limiting life support.
Objectives: To explore physicians’ self-reported practices and attitudes.
Methods: A cross-sectional, stratified survey of 1,000 randomly selected US critical care physicians was mailed. We included a vignette to experimentally examine how surrogate desire for a recommendation and physician agreement with the surrogate modified whether physicians would provide a recommendation.
Measurements and Main Results: Proportion of respondents reporting they routinely provide surrogates with a recommendation and how responses varied based on vignette characteristics. A total of 608 (66%) of 922 eligible physicians participated. Approximately one (22%) in five reported always providing surrogates with a recommendation, whereas 1 (11%) in 10 reported rarely or never doing so. Almost all respondents reported comfort making recommendations (92%) and viewed them as appropriate (93%). Most also viewed recommendations as a critical care physician’s duty (87%) and did not view them as unduly influential (80%). Approximately two-fifths (41%) believed recommendations were only appropriate if sought by surrogates. In response to the vignettes, nearly all respondents (91%) provided a recommendation when the surrogate requested a recommendation and the physician agreed with the surrogate’s likely decision. Physicians were less likely to provide an unwanted recommendation, both when physicians agreed (29%) and disagreed with the surrogate’s likely decision (44%).
Conclusions: There is substantial variation among physicians’ self-reported use of recommendations to surrogates of critically ill adults. Surrogates’ desires for recommendations and physicians’ agreement with surrogates’ likely decisions may have important influence on whether recommendations are provided.
physician recommendations; life support; intensive care; medical ethics; surrogate decision maker
Rationale: DNA methylation is an important epigenetic mechanism, which often occurs in response to environmental stimuli and is crucial in regulating gene expression. It is likely that epigenetic alterations contribute to pathogenesis in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
Objectives: To determine the DNA methylation changes in IPF and their effects on gene expression.
Methods: Total DNA methylation and DNA methyltransferase expression were compared in IPF and normal control lung tissues. IPF and normal tissues were subjected to comparative analysis of genome-wide DNA methylation and RNA expression using DNA hybridization to the Illumina HumanMethylation27 BeadChip and RNA hybridization to Illumina HumanHT-12 BeadChip. Functional analyses of differentially expressed and differentially methylated genes were done. Selected genes were validated at DNA, RNA, and protein levels.
Measurements and Main Results: DNA methylation status was altered in IPF. IPF samples demonstrated higher DNA methyltransferase expression without observed alterations in global DNA methylation. Genome-wide differences in DNA methylation status and RNA expression were demonstrated by array hybridization. Among the genes whose DNA methylation status and RNA expression were both significantly altered, 16 genes were hypermethylated in DNA associated with decreased mRNA expression or vice versa. We validated CLDN5, ZNF467, TP53INP1, and DDAH1 genes at the level of DNA methylation status, RNA, and protein-level expression.
Conclusions: Changes in DNA methylation correspond to altered mRNA expression of a number of genes, some with known and others with previously uncharacterized roles in IPF, suggesting that DNA methylation is important in the pathogenesis of IPF.
idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; DNA methylation; gene expression; microarray
Rationale: Low vitamin D levels are associated with asthma and decreased airway responsiveness. Treatment with inhaled corticosteroids improves airway responsiveness and asthma control.
Objectives: To assess the effect of vitamin D levels on prebronchodilator FEV1, bronchodilator response, and responsiveness to methacholine (PC20, provocative concentration of methacholine producing a 20% decline in FEV1) in patients with asthma treated with inhaled corticosteroids.
Methods: We measured 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in the serum of children with persistent asthma at the time of enrollment in the Childhood Asthma Management Program. We divided subjects into the vitamin D sufficiency (>30 ng/ml), insufficiency (20–30 ng/ml), and deficiency (<20 ng/ml) groups. Covariates included age, treatment, sex, body mass index, race, history of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and season that vitamin D specimen was drawn. Our main outcome measures were change in prebronchodilator FEV1, bronchodilator response, and PC20 from enrollment to 8–12 months.
Measurements and Main Results: Of the 1,024 subjects, 663 (65%) were vitamin D sufficient, 260 (25%) were insufficient, and 101 (10%) were deficient. Vitamin D–deficient subjects were more likely to be older, African American, and have a higher body mass index compared with the vitamin D–sufficient and insufficient subjects. In the inhaled corticosteroid treatment group, prebronchodilator FEV1 increased from randomization to 12 months by 140 ml in the vitamin D–deficient group and prebronchodilator FEV1 increased by 330 ml in the vitamin D insufficiency group and by 290 ml in the vitamin D sufficiency group (P = 0.0072), in adjusted models.
Conclusions: In children with asthma treated with inhaled corticosteroids, vitamin D deficiency is associated with poorer lung function than in children with vitamin D insufficiency or sufficiency.
asthma; vitamin D; lung function; forced expiratory volume; children
Rationale: Long-term survival after lung transplantation is limited by infectious complications and by bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), a form of chronic rejection linked in part to microbial triggers.
Objectives: To define microbial populations in the respiratory tract of transplant patients comprehensively using unbiased high-density sequencing.
Methods: Lung was sampled by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and upper respiratory tract by oropharyngeal wash (OW). Bacterial 16S rDNA and fungal internal transcribed spacer sequencing was used to profile organisms present. Outlier analysis plots defining taxa enriched in lung relative to OW were used to identify bacteria enriched in lung against a background of oropharyngeal carryover.
Measurements and Main Results: Lung transplant recipients had higher bacterial burden in BAL than control subjects, frequent appearance of dominant organisms, greater distance between communities in BAL and OW indicating more distinct populations, and decreased respiratory tract microbial richness and diversity. Fungal populations were typically dominated by Candida in both sites or by Aspergillus in BAL but not OW. 16S outlier analysis identified lung-enriched taxa indicating bacteria replicating in the lower respiratory tract. In some cases this confirmed respiratory cultures but in others revealed enrichment by anaerobic organisms or mixed outgrowth of upper respiratory flora and provided quantitative data on relative abundances of bacteria found by culture.
Conclusions: Respiratory tract microbial communities in lung transplant recipients differ in structure and composition from healthy subjects. Outlier analysis can identify specific bacteria replicating in lung. These findings provide novel approaches to address the relationship between microbial communities and transplant outcome and aid in assessing lung infections.
microbiome; 16S; ITS; bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome
Rationale: Elevated long pentraxin-3 (PTX3) levels are associated with the development of primary graft dysfunction (PGD) after lung transplantation. Abnormalities in innate immunity, mediated by PTX3 release, may play a role in PGD pathogenesis.
Objectives: Our goal was to test whether variants in the gene encoding PTX3 are risk factors for PGD.
Methods: We performed a candidate gene association study in recipients from the multicenter, prospective Lung Transplant Outcomes Group cohort enrolled between July 2002 and July 2009. The primary outcome was International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation grade 3 PGD within 72 hours of transplantation. Targeted genotyping of 10 haplotype-tagging PTX3 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was performed in lung transplant recipients. The association between PGD and each SNP was evaluated by logistic regression, adjusting for pretransplantation lung disease, cardiopulmonary bypass use, and population stratification. The association between SNPs and plasma PTX3 levels was tested across genotypes in a subset of recipients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Measurements and Main Results: Six hundred fifty-four lung transplant recipients were included. The incidence of PGD was 29%. Two linked 5′ region variants, rs2120243 and rs2305619, were associated with PGD (odds ratio, 1.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 1.9; P = 0.006 and odds ratio, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 1.9; P = 0.007, respectively). The minor allele of rs2305619 was significantly associated with higher plasma PTX3 levels measured pretransplantation (P = 0.014) and at 24 hours (P = 0.047) after transplantation in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Conclusions: Genetic variants of PTX3 are associated with PGD after lung transplantation, and are associated with increased PTX3 plasma levels.
primary graft dysfunction; single-nucleotide polymorphism; long pentraxin 3; lung transplantation
Rationale: Prevalence of pulmonary nontuberculous mycobacterial (PNTM) disease varies by geographic region, yet the factors driving these differences remain largely unknown.
Objectives: To identify spatial clusters of PNTM disease at the county level and to describe environmental and sociodemographic factors predictive of disease.
Methods: PNTM cases identified from a nationally representative sample of Medicare Part B beneficiaries from 1997 to 2007 were geocoded by county and state of residence. County-level PNTM case counts and Medicare population data were then uploaded into SaTScan to identify significant spatial clusters and low-risk areas of disease. High-risk and low-risk counties were then compared to identify significant sociodemographic and environmental differences.
Measurements and Main Results: We identified seven significant (P < 0.05) clusters of PNTM cases. These high-risk areas encompassed 55 counties in 8 states, including parts of California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Five low-risk areas were also identified, which encompassed 746 counties in 23 states, mostly in the Midwest. Counties in high-risk areas were significantly larger, had greater population densities, and higher education and income levels than low-risk counties. High-risk counties also had higher mean daily potential evapotranspiration levels and percentages covered by surface water, and were more likely to have greater copper and sodium levels in the soil, although lower manganese levels.
Conclusions: Specific environmental factors related to soil and water exposure appear to increase the risk of PNTM infection. Still, given that environmental sources of NTM are ubiquitous and PNTM disease is rare, both host susceptibility and environmental factors must be considered in explaining disease development.
nontuberculous mycobacteria; pulmonary; spatial; cluster; epidemiology
Many patients who develop incapacitating illness have not expressed clear treatment preferences. Therefore, surrogate decision makers are asked to make judgments about what treatment pathway is most consistent with the patient’s values. Surrogates often struggle with such decisions. The difficulty arises because answering the seemingly straightforward question, “What do you think the patient would choose?” is emotionally, cognitively, and morally complex. There is little guidance for clinicians to assist families in constructing an authentic picture of the patient’s values and applying them to medical decisions, in part because current models of medical decision making treat the surrogate as the expert on the patient’s values and the physician as the expert on technical medical considerations. However, many surrogates need assistance in identifying and working through the sometimes conflicting values relevant to medical decisions near the end of life. We present a framework for clinicians to help surrogates overcome the emotional, cognitive, and moral barriers to high-quality surrogate decision making for incapacitated patients.
surrogate decision making; patient-centered care; ethics; critical care; shared decision making
Rationale: Obesity is associated with increased prevalence and severity of asthma. Adipose tissue macrophages can contribute to the systemic proinflammatory state associated with obesity. However, it remains unknown whether alveolar macrophages have a unique phenotype in overweight/obese patients with asthma.
Objectives: We hypothesized that leptin levels would be increased in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from overweight/obese subjects and, furthermore, that leptin would alter the response of alveolar macrophages to bacterial LPS.
Methods: Forty-two subjects with asthma and 46 healthy control subjects underwent research bronchoscopy. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from 66 was analyzed for the level of cellular inflammation, cytokines, and soluble leptin. Cultured primary macrophages from 22 subjects were exposed to LPS, leptin, or leptin plus LPS. Cytokines were measured in the supernatants.
Measurements and Main Results: Leptin levels were increased in overweight/obese subjects, regardless of asthma status (P = 0.013), but were significantly higher in overweight/obese subjects with asthma. Observed levels of tumor necrosis factor-α were highest in overweight/obese subjects with asthma. Ex vivo studies of primary alveolar macrophages indicated that the response to LPS was most robust in alveolar macrophages from overweight/obese subjects with asthma and that preexposure to high-dose leptin enhanced the proinflammatory response. Leptin alone was sufficient to induce production of proinflammatory cytokines from macrophages derived from overweight/obese subjects with asthma.
Conclusions: Ex vivo studies indicate that alveolar macrophages derived from overweight/obese subjects with asthma are uniquely sensitive to leptin. This macrophage phenotype, in the context of higher levels of soluble leptin, may contribute to the pathogenesis of airway disease associated with obesity.
tumor necrosis factor-α; leptin; innate immunity; lipopolysaccharide; environmental lung disease
Rationale: Mycobacterium tuberculosis is transmitted by infectious aerosols, but assessing infectiousness currently relies on sputum microscopy that does not accurately predict the variability in transmission.
Objectives: To evaluate the feasibility of collecting cough aerosols and the risk factors for infectious aerosol production from patients with pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) in a resource-limited setting.
Methods: We enrolled subjects with suspected TB in Kampala, Uganda and collected clinical, radiographic, and microbiological data in addition to cough aerosol cultures. A subset of 38 subjects was studied on 2 or 3 consecutive days to assess reproducibility.
Measurements and Main Results: M. tuberculosis was cultured from cough aerosols of 28 of 101 (27.7%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 19.9–37.1%) subjects with culture-confirmed TB, with a median 16 aerosol cfu (range, 1–701) in 10 minutes of coughing. Nearly all (96.4%) cultivable particles were 0.65 to 4.7 μm in size. Positive aerosol cultures were associated with higher Karnofsky performance scores (P = 0.016), higher sputum acid-fast bacilli smear microscopy grades (P = 0.007), lower days to positive in liquid culture (P = 0.004), stronger cough (P = 0.016), and fewer days on TB treatment (P = 0.047). In multivariable analyses, cough aerosol cultures were associated with a salivary/mucosalivary (compared with purulent/mucopurulent) appearance of sputum (odds ratio, 4.42; 95% CI, 1.23–21.43) and low days to positive (per 1-d decrease; odds ratio, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.07–1.33). The within-test (kappa, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.68–0.94) and interday test (kappa, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.43–0.82) reproducibility were high.
Conclusions: A minority of patients with TB (28%) produced culturable cough aerosols. Collection of cough aerosol cultures is feasible and reproducible in a resource-limited setting.
tuberculosis; cough; air microbiology; infectious disease transmission; infection control
Rationale: Although commonly used as the primary outcome measure of clinical trials in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), the minimal important difference (MID) of the 6-minute walk test (6MWT) has not been well defined for this population of patients.
Objectives: To estimate the MID in the 6MWT in patients with PAH.
Methods: Study subjects from the clinical trial of tadalafil in PAH, a 16-week, parallel-group, randomized clinical trial of patients who were treatment naive or on background therapy with an endothelin receptor antagonist, were eligible. 6MWT was performed using a standardized protocol. Distributional and anchor-based methods were used to estimate the MID; the latter method used the Physical Component Summary Score (PCS) of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item short form (SF-36).
Measurements and Main Results: Four hundred five subjects were analyzed. Domains of the SF-36 were weakly to modestly associated with 6MWT. Change in the PCS of the SF-36 was most strongly associated with change in 6MWT (r = 0.40, P < 0.001) and thus was selected as the anchor for subsequent anchor-based analyses. Distributional analyses yielded estimates of the MID ranging from 25.1 to 38.5 m, whereas anchor-based analyses yielded an estimate of 38.6 m.
Conclusions: Using both distributional and anchor-based methods, the estimated consensus MID in the 6MWT for PAH is approximately 33 m. These results have important implications for (1) assessing treatment responses from clinical trials and metaanalyses of specific PAH therapy, and (2) sample size calculations for future study design.
pulmonary hypertension; outcome measures; 6-minute walk test; minimal important difference
Rationale: New vaccine approaches are needed for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which continues to be a major cause of serious pulmonary infections. Although Th17 cells can protect against gram-negative pathogens at mucosal surfaces, including the lung, the bacterial proteins recognized by Th17 cells are largely unknown and could be potential new vaccine candidates.
Objectives: We describe a strategy to identify Th17-stimulating protein antigens of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to assess their efficacy as vaccines against pneumonia.
Methods: Using a library of in vitro transcribed and translated P. aeruginosa proteins, we screened for Th17-stimulating antigens by coculturing the library proteins with splenocytes from mice immunized with a live-attenuated P. aeruginosa vaccine that is protective via Th17-based immunity. We measured antibody and Th17 responses after intranasal immunization of mice with the purified proteins mixed with the Th17 adjuvant curdlan, and we tested the protective efficacy of vaccination in a murine model of acute pneumonia.
Measurements and Main Results: The proteins PopB, FpvA, FptA, OprL, and PilQ elicited strong IL-17 secretion in the screen, and purified versions of PopB, FpvA, and OprL stimulated high IL-17 production from immune splenocytes. Immunization with PopB, which is a highly conserved component of the type III secretion system and a known virulence factor, elicited Th17 responses and also enhanced clearance of P. aeruginosa from the lung and spleen after challenge. PopB-immunized mice were protected from lethal pneumonia in an antibody-independent, IL-17–dependent manner.
Conclusions: Screening for Th17-stimulating protein antigens identified PopB as a novel and promising vaccine candidate for P. aeruginosa.
vaccine; pneumonia; Th17; IL-17; Pseudomonas aeruginosa